NASA’s InSight gets a few extra weeks with Mars Science – NASA’s InSight Mars Lander

InSight’s latest selfie: NASA’s InSight Mars lander took this last selfie on April 24, 2022, the 1211st March day, or sun, for the mission. The lander is covered with far more dust than it was in his first selfie, taken in December 2018, not long after landing – or in his second selfie, composed of photos taken in March and April 2019. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech. Download image ›


The mission’s team has chosen to use its seismometer longer than previously planned, although the lander will run out of power earlier as a result.


As the power available to NASA’s InSight Mars lands decreases with each passing day, the spacecraft’s team has revised the mission’s timeline to maximize the science they can perform. The lander was estimated to automatically turn off the seismometer – InSight’s latest operational scientific instrument – by the end of June to save energy, and survive on the power the dust-charged solar panels can generate until around December.

Instead, the team now plans to program the lander so that the seismometer can operate longer, perhaps until the end of August or into the beginning of September. Doing so will discharge the lander’s batteries faster and cause the spacecraft to run out of power at that time as well, but it may allow the seismometer to detect multiple Martian earthquakes.

“InSight is not done teaching us about Mars yet,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington. “We will get every bit of science we can before the lander ends the operations.”

The InSight team will be available to answer your questions directly on June 28 at 15.00 EDT (dinner PDT) during a livestream event on YouTube. Questions can be asked using the #AskNASA hashtag.

InSight (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is on an extended mission after achieving its scientific goals. The lander has detected more than 1,300 Mars earthquakes since it hit Mars in 2018, and provided information that has enabled scientists to measure the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle and core. With its other instruments, InSight has recorded invaluable weather data, surveyed the earth beneath the lander, and studied the remnants of Mars’ ancient magnetic field.

This image shows an illustration of how InSight studies Mars' inner layer.

How InSight studies Mars’ inner layer (illustration): NASA’s InSight Mars lander uses a seismometer to study the inner layers of Mars. Seismic signals from earthquakes change as they pass through different types of materials; Seismologists can “read” the curls in a seismogram to study the properties of the planet’s crust, mantle and core. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

All instruments except the seismometer are already turned off. Like other Mars spacecraft, InSight has an error protection system that automatically triggers “safe mode” in threatening situations and shuts down all but the most important functions, allowing engineers to assess the situation. Low power and temperatures operating outside predetermined limits can both trigger safe mode.

To enable the seismometer to continue running for as long as possible, the mission team turns off the InSight fault protection system. While this will allow the instrument to operate longer, it leaves the lander unprotected from sudden, unexpected events that ground controllers would not have time to respond to.

“The goal is to get scientific data to the point where InSight can not operate at all, instead of conserving energy and operating the lander without scientific benefits,” said Chuck Scott, InSight’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Regular updates on InSight’s power and observations from mission team members will appear on blogs.nasa.gov/insight.

The InSight team will also be available to answer your questions directly on June 28 at 15.00 EDT (dinner PDT) during a livestream event on YouTube. Questions can be asked using the #AskNASA hashtag.

More about the mission

JPL administers InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, administered by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft InSight, including cruise stages and landers, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners, including the French Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), support the InSight mission. CNES provided the instrument Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) to NASA, with the lead investigator at the IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR delivered the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

News Media contacts

Andrew Bra
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501
karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov